Back in November of last year I wrote my first two posts about

my 5x greatgrandfather Elisha Houghton, including one which

told how he lost his rifle in the aftermath of Bunker Hill. Looking

over his service record and the muster rolls for his regiment, it

struck me he was a colorful fellow and I decided to do a series

transcribing his Pension Request file. But the busy Christmas

season at work and then my illness at the start of the year

postponed that.

Then last week I was thinking about what I might want to post about

here for the 4th of July and research once more piqued my interest in

Elisha.First there were the battles he took part in, and secondly there

was the fact he'd twice been a sergeant, and twice he'd been broken

back down to the ranks. Third, his pension request file is relatively

small compared to some of the others I have (My 4x great granduncle

Benjamin Barker's file, for example, has 86 images if I include the

service records and muster rolls.) and I thought I could write about it

in only a few blog entries.

As Robert Burns said, the best laid plans of mice and men so often go


So I began by looking over the service records, and then the muster rolls,

and this is the information they gave me in chronological order of Elisha

Houghton's military career with the Massachusetts 15th Regiment of the

Continental Army in a company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown:

1May 1777 enlists for 3 years
1Nov 1777 appointed Sgt
10Dec 1777 Sick at Albany.
Jan 1778 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
21Feb 1778 On command at Albany Jan 1778
5Mar 1778 Sick in Albany Feb1778 Valley Forge
Apr 1778 Sick in camp March 1778 Valley Forge
2May 1778 On Guard Apr 1778 Valley Forge
2Jun 1778 Sgt May 1778 Valley Forge
25Sep 1779 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
1May 1780 discharged at"Camp near Robinson's Farm(?)"

(This doesn't include his previous service with the militia at Boston.)

Looking at this raised a question I hadn't considered before. I knew

what"on guard" meant and of course "sick", but what did "on

command"mean?Not finding much information on my own I asked my

friends on Facebook if anyone knew what the term meant. I received

answers and suggestions from genealogist and non-genealogist friends

alike, and I finally decided that the best explanation was that Elisha

was either on a special detail or detached duty from his company

during those periods he was "on command".

There is of course more to explore about Elisha Houghton then I

originally thought, and that's what I'll be doing in honor of him and my

other Revolutionary War ancestors during this month of July.

Views: 183

Comment by Elizabeth Irwin Kane on July 12, 2010 at 5:23pm
Very interesting series of events. When you write your story, you might consider submitting it to "Cobblestone, the Children's History Magazine" or to "Highlights for Kids". "Cobblestone" used to have themes for each issue. You can get writer's guidelines by writing to them. It would make a great read for kids as well as adults. "Cobblestone" is for 9-12 year olds and is based on the state of California's curriculum for 5th grade. It has won many awards for excellence.
Comment by Bill West on July 12, 2010 at 7:48pm
Thanks, Elizabeth!


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